by Paul Blair
For more than a year, the Food and Drug Administration has hung the start-up vapor industry out to dry with anticipation for a more sane and rational approach to the regulation of electronic cigarettes. Last week, the FDA finally announced steps geared towards making it easier to bring new products to market, soliciting input from the public and signaling that Obama-era prohibition may not be the intended outcome of the agency. This largely positive announcement takes a significant step in the right direction toward regulatory certainty that could unquestionably improve public health.
Context is important. This summer marks the one-year anniversary of the FDA’s “Comprehensive Plan for Tobacco and Nicotine Regulation” and the nine-year anniversary of the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. In his 2017 Plan, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that when it comes to nicotine use, there is a continuum of risk for consumers. He signaled that despite the Obama administration’s 2016 Deeming Rule – which defined vapor products as tobacco and subjected them to retroactive pre-approval processes designed to end in failure – the outcome didn’t have to be so guaranteed.